Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tunnel Vision

I grew up near Pittsburgh, and since I’m now living here for a while, I’m reminded of the “Tunnel Monsters” of the Burgh. Everyone, and I mean everyone, slows from 65mph to 10mph…and sometimes, 0mph, simply because they have to drive through a tunnel. Since there are no obstructions, no surprises, and cops stay away for fear of slowing us down even more, the Pittsburghers decided a Tunnel Monster must occasionally show up and eat a car or two, and people fear they could be next.

While the Tunnel Monster is a humorous means for locals to deal with their daily frustration of tunnel crawl, we as Christians tend to do the same thing. That is, day-after-day, we travel the road of life with God in the lead. While walking our path He set before us, occasionally we see a mountain or possible trouble in the distance so we slow down and begin to question His wisdom.

Are you sure, God?
I know you have gotten me through, over, or around other mountains, but that one is huge—are you sure?

We not only slow down ourselves, but those around us in our sphere of influence. I wonder how much people watch us and wonder if we see a tunnel monster or some other evil greater than God’s power.

Why are you hesitating?
Why do you slow?
Where is your faith?

"I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

We tend to mock the Israelites because, despite unbelievable demonstrations of God’s might, they continually questioned Moses and God. The Israelites’ path caused them to face death at every turn due to starvation, dehydration, impassable mountains, the Red Sea, warring armies, and giants. Most of us, at worst, might face a harsh word, leaving family and friends, and the unknown, so we slow, stop, and some turn around and go back to “Egypt”, our place of comfort, "I know, but my family lives here…so..."

The problem is not what they did…it is what we do or don't do.

We have watched God do things in our lives, in the lives of others, and the world that we live in, and yet, we question Him daily.

As we get closer to the mountain, we sometimes find that God has provided a tunnel or a way through the problem. We are relieved we don’t have to hike this one. Going over the mountain is exhausting and can take lots of time, energy, and courage. But this time God carved a tunnel, so we should be good to go—right?

Sadly, wrong!

We still slow down. We still question. We still double and triple look for a tunnel monster.

What if, however, there is a note-worthy opponent—so what! The God who created everything, transcends time, and raised Jesus from the dead is leading you on this path. You can run and cower by yourself or stand firm with the clout of God’s might.

It’s your call.

As ridiculous and absurd as the Tunnel Monster is in Pittsburgh, so are we who daily question the God who created us, loves us, and died to save us from His wrath to come.

Isn’t it time to move forward with maximum speed?

Isn’t it time to take our foot off the brake and put it back on the gas pedal?

We need to stop slowing down; our indecisiveness affects the progress of the gospel!

The other side is on the other side….DRIVE ON!

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” Mth. 21:21-22

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Thursday, July 10, 2014


On a short hike through the hillsides of Pittsburgh the other day, I came across this 150-yard-long rock wall. The large structure has many boulders that must weigh several tons each. This barrier is in the middle of nowhere; at least, nothing surrounds it today. As I walked along the top and spied a snake or two, I wondered, who built this thing and why? I imagine it took a great deal of effort, sweat, and planning to create. I don’t know if someone built it to keep something in or out, or both. Regardless, here it sits, a remnant of days gone by, and no one cares if the wall is here or not. It may have done its job in the day, but it does nothing now, except provide a place for snakes to absorb the warmth of the sun, bees to make nests, and plants to hold on to for stability.

As I took some time out of my hike to sit and ponder the wall with my new snake friends, I compared the manmade walls of Christianity that we have built over the centuries. There are rules and regulations on church dockets from years past that are nothing short of ridiculous and humorous at best, and despite the committees it took to form them and the infighting parishioners went through to create them, few care that they are there today. They are useless old walls, which, unfortunately, have done their job. These manmade barriers to eternal life with Jesus Christ are desperately sad and disturbing, and Jesus spoke against them continually. As Alex Himaya wrote, “Jesus hates religion” or man-breathed rules. Many of these hurdles impeded those who were earnestly seeking answers.

Hunters of truth who were turned away because they did not fit into a human-made structure.

I wonder how many simply stopped trying.

How many people simply moved on, assuming they weren’t good enough for God because they weren’t good enough for humankind?

The wall from space,
Google Maps
Beyond those manmade ‘clay tablet’ rules that Jesus despises, how many parents, grandparents, and churchgoers have thrown up similar walls? The most perplexing to me are those who continue to trumpet their ignorance or fear of answers by saying, ‘it’s a sin’ or ‘it’s not right to ask questions about one’s faith’. If we don’t or can’t ask questions:

How do we learn? How do we grow? How do we know God better?

God told us to “test the spirits” 1 John 4:1

That means, ‘Ask questions’!

I wonder how many times a student, son or daughter, or those on the “outside” couldn’t see over the well-constructed rock wall of religion and missed the relationship. I know this; nature despises a vacuum and will always fill a void. If seekers of truth don’t or can’t ask us, they certainly will seek their answers elsewhere. The world happily gives them the answers they seek, and gladly fills the void.

I could recount many life stories that I have heard where the person at a young age sought truth, but ran into a self-righteous wall of fear or disinformation never to return. We need to stop building walls and start building relationships that bring people to dynamic life in Christ. Clothes, tattoos, cars, houses, jobs, education, looks, athleticism, smells, ignorance, actions, God haters, etc. We can’t let any of those offend us to the point of building a wall that Jesus is trying to tear down. I was a God hater until the age of twenty-seven. I am grateful someone did not build a wall that I could not get over, like so many in my life had already done. Lisa Shores saw me for what I was, despite my adamant belief to the contrary: a man in need of a Savior.

Be a wall destroyer, not a wall builder.

“Human pride will be humbled, and human arrogance will be brought down. Only the LORD will be exalted on that day of judgment.” Isa. 2:17

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